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Roku announces wireless audio platform, voice assistant

04 Jan 2018 | Rasmus Larsen |

Roku is developing a voice assistant for its players, Roku TVs, and upcoming licensed products. The company is also rolling out a platform for wireless TV audio and multiroom.

Roku-based wireless speakers

The wireless audio platform has been dubbed ’Roku Connect’ and is designed to connect speakers wirelessly to a Roku TV and to let customers set up a multiroom audio system at home.

The company says that Roku Connect will be licensed to other manufacturers based on a reference design. China’s TCL will be the first partner to announce a product with Roku Conenct built-in at CES next week. It added that the Roku Connect software is free to license but that it comes with a hardware requirement.

Roku Connect can be licensed for soundbars and other types of speakers.

- “We’ve always focused on making it incredibly simple for consumers to find and enjoy streaming entertainment on their TVs, and with an expanded Roku ecosystem, consumers will be able to add great sound to their TVs and audio around the whole home in a modern way,” said Roku CEO Anthony Wood. “Consumers will love the benefits of a home entertainment network, such as having more affordable options, adding one device at a time, using their voice, having a simplified set up and Wi-Fi connectivity, and holding just one remote control. And, of course, OEM brands benefit by offering their products in a more appealing way to our already large and engaged audience of millions of active accounts.”

With the system, Roku will take on Sonos and other players in the field. The question then becomes; can the company deliver a better experience? We are eager to find out once CES starts.

Roku Connect will roll out as a free software update ”by this Fall to most Roku TV models and Roku players”, and is part of a grander plan to ”encompass the whole home”. Compatible products will carry a logo.

So what is in it for Roku when the update is free? The company ”monetizes active accounts as users engage with content and advertising on its platform.”

Roku voice assistant

Roku also announced plans to develop and launch a voice assistant. It is not meant to compete directly with Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri but rather revolve exclusively around home entertainment use cases.

The voice assistant will enable customers to control playback of video. It will also integrate with speakers based on Roku Connect, enabling customers to say things such as ”Hey Roku, play jazz in the living room”, even if the TV is turned off.

The ”Roku Entertainment Assistant” is also expected to be rolled out as a free software update ” by this Fall to most Roku TV models and Roku players”.

Lastly, it was announced that Magnavox has joined the Roku TV licensing program as the ninth brand. The company added that Roku TVs accounted for more than one out of every five Smart TVs sold in the US during the first nine months of 2017.

Roku in 2018

Roku TV – A smart TV powered by the Roku OS. To be updated with Roku Connect and Roku Entertainment Assistant by this Fall.
Smart Soundbar – Enhances the TV audio experience. Designed to work with any TV that has a HDMI ARC, and expected to have features to allow it to work better with a Roku TV. To be powered by the Roku OS and include Roku Connect and Roku Entertainment Assistant.
Smart Speaker – Stand-alone speaker or extends audio from another device for a multi-room experience. To be powered by the Roku OS and include Roku Connect and Roku Entertainment Assistant.
Roku Connect – Enables OEM brands to build home entertainment devices that connect wirelessly to Roku OS powered devices and other Roku Connect devices within a home entertainment network. Roku Connect devices will be identified by a Roku Connect logo.
Roku Entertainment Assistant - A voice assistant, the Roku Entertainment Assistant, that is optimized for home entertainment. When launched, the Roku Entertainment Assistant will enable consumers to use voice commands to enjoy entertainment on voice-supported Roku devices. For example, customers will be able to say, “Hey Roku, play jazz in the living room” and a smart soundbar with Roku Connect will begin playing music – even if the TV is turned off.

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